Apr 09, 2009

Taiwan: EU Urged to be Proactive

Active ImageThe incoming new parliament has been urged to be more supportive of Taiwan's efforts to join the international community as they prepare a bid for WHO observer status.



Below is an article published by TheParliament.com :

The appeal comes as Taiwan prepares its latest bid for observer status in the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The application is expected to be debated at the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's key decision-making body, in Geneva on 18 May [2009].

Speaking exclusively to this website, Lyushun Shen, Taiwan's representative to the EU and Belgium, described the application  as an "acid test" of new, friendlier relations between Taiwan and China.

"This is an opportunity for China to show it is sincere. In the past, China seems to have been more interested in defending its position on Tibet, its human rights record and in preventing Taiwan from playing a part in the international community," he said.

"This has got to change and this year's application to the WHO is an indicator of how much China wants to change, certainly in its relations towards Taiwan."

Several senior MEPs, notably ALDE leader Graham Watson, have been vocal in their support of Taiwan in the past.

Shen, a career diplomat, praised parliament for the two resolutions it  passed  in recent months supporting Taiwan's observership in the WHO and  the United Nations' specialised agencies.

However, he believes the assembly could go further still in endorsing Taiwanese efforts, saying, "Hopefully, the new parliament will be even more pro-active in adopting more resolutions and holding hearings.

"Individual MEPs could also show their concerns by writing to the commission on this issue."

He also compared the parliament's position with that of the commission. Unlike parliament, the commission has stuck rigidly to supporting the so-called "One-China" policy and has gone no further than saying Taiwan should have "meaningful participation" in organisations like the UN and WHO.

"We have asked the commission what exactly they mean by 'meaningful participation' but they seem unable to define it," he said.

Shen, who has been in his current post for less than four months, also says Taiwan's efforts to gain observer status in the WHO has become "politicised."

"This should be a purely public health issue but, unfortunately, the political dimension has now outweighed the health aspects. This should not be the case."

"Granting Taiwan observer status is not a political matter but a practical one."

Taiwan has been seeking to participate in the WHO since 1997, saying it is the only reliable way to ensure the health rights of Taiwan's 23m people.

In addition to its diplomatic allies, Taiwan has succeeded in gaining firm support from the US and Japan.